Byfuglien’s Unforgivable Suspension

Someone needs to throw Byfuglien’s track suit in the shower.

The Winnipeg Jets defenseman, who was credited with sparking the controversy that ended Evander Kane’s tenure with the franchise, could use a little discipline.

Kane’s crime was to disrespect the logo and his teammates by showing up late to a team meeting in inappropriate attire; an incident that caused more controversy off the ice than it did on it.  By contrast, Byfuglien’s equally disrespectful and selfish act, in late March, could cost his team a chance at a playoff spot.

The Jets are in a furious race for their first visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the team moved to Winnipeg in 2011.  They are close, the closest they’ve ever been, after hitting the 40-win mark for the first time in the franchise’s short history, after a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

But the game, as three of the last four will be, was without their top scoring defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (18 goals, 45 points) who was suspended following a brutal, careless and selfish cross-check to New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller last week.

It’s irrelevant that there was no penalty on the play since the video recap clearly shows Byfuglien driving Miller’s head to the ice for no accidental or apparent reason. The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety, therefore, determined the act deserved a four game suspension which will cost Byfuglien $111,827.96 USD in forfeited salary.

It is an inexcusable mistake with so much of the Jets’ hopes riding on Byfuglien’s presence.

Head coach Paul Maurice refused to charge the 30 year-old veteran, stating:

“It wasn’t a situation where he said, ‘I’m going to cross check this guy in the back of the neck and see if I can get away with it.’  He threw a cross check that went way too high on a guy that was on his way down and it cost us. So what Dustin Byfuglien owes this team is for that Calgary game to be the best game that he can possibly play.”

It’s hard to fault Maurice for defending his player to the press but we expect there was a less supportive meeting that went on behind closed doors, since the team needed and needs a player whose ice time was increasing with the importance of each game and win.

The Jets currently have 92 points but lose the tiebreak to the L.A. Kings, who also have 92 points, since the Kings have more regulation and overtime wins than the Jets. The Kings also have their best defenseman, Drew Doughty, on the ice for their three game road trip where the Jets’ will be without theirs when they play the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche on the road, before their final regular season game against the Flames at MTS Centre.

The Jets are aiming to make history and no one should have understood that better than Byfuglien, who was once so offended by a teammate disrespecting the crest that he threw his clothes in the shower.  Now, the Jets will have to hope that Byfuglien can make it up to them before next season.

The Jets host the Flames on April 11th for their final regular season game of the 2014-2015 NHL season.

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